Week Two: Why We Need Nature Writing by Robert Macfarlane


Robert Macfarlane

Also in Week Two we considered an article from The New Statesman entitled “Why We Need Nature Writing.” Robert Macfarlane is a fellow of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. His award-winning books include Mountains of the Mind  (Granta) and The Old Ways (Penguin). This essay is Macfarlane’s rebuttal to Mark Cocker’s interrogation of “the new nature writing”, published in the June issue of The New Statesman.

Can the nature writer be a mere “weekend excursionist” appreciating and reporting what he sees, or must one be an environmental activist? Is there a middle ground? Can excellent and evocative nature writing cause one to love and therefore wish to protect the earth?

Read Macfarlane’s essay here.

And be prepared to purchase every book of nature writing he recommends . . .his enthusiasm is infectious! Also check out Holloway, a lovely and lyrical book by Macfarlane et al.recommended by member Anna Schantz.


In July 2005, Robert Macfarlane and Roger Deakin – author of Wildwood – travelled to explore the holloways of South Dorset’s sandstone. They found their way into a landscape of shadows, spectres & great strangeness. Six years later, after Roger Deakin’s early death, Robert Macfarlane returned to the holloway with the artist Stanley Donwood and writer Dan Richards. The book is about those journeys and that landscape.


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